Religious freedom is what this country was founded on. You can practice any religion you’d like, and while some people will undoubtedly think you’re wrong, no one really cares.
As a society, we do put a limitation on that freedom. Religions that requires human sacrifice? The country steps in and says, “No way! You can’t do that in the name of religion.” A religion that allows slavery? No matter how much someone argues that it’s biblical, it’s not going to happen in this country. We have determined that all people should be treated equally, and you’re religion can’t infringe on someone else’s rights.
Idaho, Kansas, Tennessee and Arizona are each in the process of stepping back in time and are trying to legalize discrimination. They believe all people should not be treated equally. They are saying some people’s beliefs are more important than others. You may soon be able to legally discriminate against certain people, as long as you shroud it under religious freedom.
The door to the past has the widest opening there. Rep. Lynn Luker outlined a proposal Tuesday, backed by his conservative Christian allies, to shield religious people from the threat of losing their professional licenses for refusing service or employment to anyone they conclude violates their religious beliefs.
These licensed professionals include doctors, nurses, real estate agents, teachers, firefighters, social workers, attorneys and police officers. We have a system of checks and balances. Employees should do the right thing. That is enforced by the employer and also by the licensing boards or their license to practice may be revoked.
Obviously, more discrimination may take place with people who have a private practice. This would include doctors, nurses, real estate agents and attorneys. In a private practice, they are both employer and employee. Absolutely no accountability to anyone else – apparently not even the licensing board.
If Luker’s proposal is passed into law, it would prevent the bureau or boards from revoking the license of any professional who declined “to provide or participate in providing any service that violates the person’s sincerely held religious beliefs.” The employees would only be subject to their employers guidelines. The self-employed are subject to their own whims.
Hey…that means they could discriminate against any of us, doesn’t it?
If this goes through, things are going to get pretty tricky. The problem with religious beliefs is anyone can start a religion. How about the “Church Against Women, Atheists, and Gays”? The CAWAG would have quite the following in certain areas. How about a religion that doesn’t like White Old Dudes? WOD could be a reality. Basically, we are giving free rein that anyone could discriminate against pretty much any other person, as long as they yell Religious Freedom! Where exactly will we be drawing the line?
There is an exception – emergency personnel cannot refuse to help a person. Whew, that’s good. But how long will it be until those emergency personnel are complaining that their right to discriminate is being infringed upon? Other doctors can refuse to treat a smoker, but I can’t, even though it’s against my religious freedom, too. Where is the ultimate accountability?
Isn’t it insane that part of the country is just saying all people aren’t equal? Shouldn’t we all grow the hell up and treat everyone with a bit of respect?
I saw yesterday that Tennessee has a proposed bill to allow businesses to discriminate against same-sex couples. The bill notes that businesses can refuse services and goods only if it furthers a civil union, domestic partnership, or same-sex marriage. The person or business would just have to say it was against their religious freedom. For example, if a same-sex couple wanted a cake for their wedding reception, a bakery could refuse to cater to them.
What about a year later when that same-sex couple wanted a birthday cake? Would the bakery have to provide it, or would they be able to say “Nah, cakes for same-sex couples violates my religious freedom?” What if the same-sex couple opened a bakery that wouldn’t serve straight people?
This is the road to the reintroduction of segregation.
There is a law currently in Arizona which permits pharmacists, who are licensed by the state, to refuse on religious freedom, or moral grounds, to dispense the “morning after” pill designed to block pregnancy following unprotected sex. They say a pharmacist who is a devout Catholic should not be forced to be a part of what he or she believes is someone’s immoral act.
My personal thoughts is that’s part of the job. Why aren’t we standing up and saying, “If you want to work here, this is the job. If it is against your religious freedom to do the job requirements, then go to work somewhere that is a better fit with your beliefs.” Get a job where you agree with everything you do. We should not have a law in place allowing you to not fulfill your duties, but still get paid.
Newly proposed legislation in Arizona, SB 1062, would allow those sued in civil cases to claim that they have a legal right to decide not to provide their services to any individual or group because it would “substantially burden” their religious freedom. That specifically means doing something that the person feels is contrary to their religious teachings.
Again, discrimination for all!
A newly proposed bill in Kansas (that was overwhelmingly approved by the house) would offer protections to residents and businesses who refuse service to gays and lesbians because of their religious beliefs. Ironically enough, they’re calling it the Freedom Bill. Religious freedom that is, certainly not personal freedoms.
Why should a gay person have to hide who they are? Why is your religious freedom allowed in someone else’s bedroom?
Mark Joseph Stern pushed back against assertions that fears surrounding the measure are overblown.
When passed, the new law will allow any individual, group, or private business to refuse to serve gay couples if “it would be contrary to their sincerely held religious beliefs.” Private employers can continue to fire gay employees on account of their sexuality. Stores may deny gay couples goods and services because they are gay. Hotels can eject gay couples or deny them entry in the first place. Businesses that provide public accommodations – movie theaters, restaurants – can turn away gay couples at the door.
And if a gay couple sues for discrimination, they won’t just lose; they’ll be forced to pay their opponent’s attorney’s fees.
But what makes Kansas’ proposal even more breathtaking is that public-sector, government employees can also cite their religion to discriminate against LGBT Kansans – at the DMV, in libraries, at hospitals, at the police department, etc.
If an employee at a non-religious or government business refuses to serve a gay or lesbian couple claiming religious freedom, the manager is obligated to find another employee who will oblige. These gay and lesbian couples are people who pay their taxes, pay for the service, help pay for the governmental business to continue to operate, but they can be made to jump through extra hoops and be treated as second class citizens. What gives?
All of this is in the name of religious freedoms. Have any of these people heard of separation of church and state? Churches love this one when it gives them the tax exempt status, but suddenly there is no separation when they feel like they want to discriminate against certain groups of people.
We are in a very divided nation. If we can’t see problems raising over this, it’s only because we are wearing blinders. After one or two states pass laws like this, several more will be trying to follow in their footsteps.
None of these states are requiring businesses even notify customers in advance of that they are exercising their religious freedom. No signs on the doors are needed. A homosexual couple could be asked to leave just about any place, as long as the person says it’s because of their religion.
Religious freedom should be protected…to a point. If your religion says you should get a bunch of puppies and kick them everyday, we’d say, “No, that isn’t allowed. That’s cruelty to animals.” But if your religion says you don’t want to serve a drink to a gay couple, our society is saying that kind of religious discrimination should be protected.
What a disgrace.
Go ahead. Put the sign on the door. That sign should say “I am a bigot who believes other people are “less than” I am, and I prefer my clientele be the same.” At least let the rest of us know what we are dealing with so we can choose to walk on by and give our money to someone else.
If your religion promotes discrimination of anyone and doesn’t believe that all people deserve to be treated fairly and equally, please, let me know what religion that is, because I don’t want any part of it.
UPDATE: Kansas Republicans are killing the discrimination legislation.
UPDATE: All states mentioned in this have backed off of their proposed laws. However, there are other states that are still considering variations of the same thing.